Something More to Think About; Anger

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Are Americans Angrier?

Tony Dokoupil

     On CBS Morning, Tony Dokoupil’s lead question, “Are American’s angrier?” was in sync with conversations I’ve been having with family and friends. Almost all phone calls and table discussions end with rants about people’s misbehavior and world sanity.

     Well, there is a lot to be angry about.

     During my recent flight to Maine, a three- year -old strapped in a car seat, that, had been secured in the airplane window seat, attempted to remove his Covid mask and squirm out of his buckles.

     His mother whispered, “Don’t do that,” and pointed to the glaring red seat belt sign. Her other hand held his face mask in place.

     Once in flight, the struggle continued periodically until he was screaming his protest and when ignored, hit his mother. You can image my distress watching the insanity we now refer to as child safety.

     “I’m angry and I’m not going to take this anymore,” a famous line from “Network” came to mind. My husband and I had watched the movie on TCM the previous evening.

     It is a classic and still relevant today; especially when the terms: social media and fake news, are substituted.

     The film came out two years after television news reporter Christine Chubbuck committed suicide on-screen in Sarasota, Florida. The anchorwoman was suffering from depression and loneliness, often emotionally distant from her co-workers, and shot herself on camera as stunned viewers watched on July 15, 1974.

      This real life event was used in “Network,” in which the final scene shows the anchor killed, not by suicide but by staff because of low ratings. The scene might be responsible for the expression killer ratings.  

      Anyway, I paid close attention when Tony Dokoupil interviewed a parent about his recent outburst at a school board meeting and spoke with Dr. Ling, an expert in the field of anger.

      Tony’s view of anger as an unhealthy changed and they discussed the following.

  • Anger is a natural response that keeps us alive. Anger warns us of danger.
  • Anger and Violence don’t go hand and hand.
  • Anger can be appropriately channeled into good or change.
  • Passion can be perceived as anger.

       Many of us grew up with angry threats, i.e., “Do that again and I’ll kill you.” I believed my mother’s warning and did not do it again.

       What I did, instead, is tidy up closets and scrub bathroom floors.



. . . just saying


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To Tell the Truth

To Tell the Truth

Schooner Sailing in Bar Harbor

Last week, sunny skies and lots of red, yellow and orange foliage were abundant in Maine. I visited a dear friend, and to tell the truth, it was perfect. Ellen asked me on the return ride to the airport, what the highlight of the week was. It wasn’t difficult to decide.

The nature boat ride in Bar Harbor took first place.

Followed by dinner at Chart Room

We drove to Greenville, for lunch at Kelly’s Landing on Moose Head Lake and viewed a covered bridge along the way.

The next day it was Lobster Rolls at Youngs and movie Saints of Newark, Belfast Movie Theater, afternoon senior ticket was $5. We left after the power saw incident as the film lacked plot and character development. It was nothing but violence. Although the scenes of Newark, New Jersey Riots were riveting.

The last day it was brunch at Traci’s Dinner in Belfast, some shopping in Rockport and Camden then rooftop tapas dinning at The View, appropriately named because of the harbor view.

Evenings we absorbed the sunset view from Ellen’s townhouse and watched Netflix.

Sunset on Penobscot Bay

Truthfully, the cooler temperatures and fall colors re-energized me. .

The world is more difficult to navigate, post covid; especially travel. Flying on Allegiant Airlines I paid a $35 fee to carry-on a carry-on, and offered a bottle of water for $3.

At the security, we were informed computers didn’t have to be taken out of luggage after I had unzipped my suitcase and removed the device.

“Do I have to take off my shoes?” I asked.

“Are you 75?” asked the agent.

I lied and kept my shoes on.

Then stood like a convicted criminal with arms raised and feet apart in the circular scanner; patted down, and hands powder checked.

Luckily I wasn’t a serious threat and allowed to board.

To tell the truth . . . it was a great trip. Thank you Ellen.   

. . . just saying


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FYI (The pictures were taken by either Ellen or myself)

The Remote Problem


 Today’s the Day

Today is the day! I’m going to solve the remote problem. I have six remotes in my home. Only one works. It’s a long story, so I’ll try to make it short.

It was an ordinary day when the bedroom remote stopped working. Spectrum responded quickly and mailed a new remote. After using a magnifier to read the instructions I thought it best to phone and talk to a live representative. She was extremely helpful and concluded, since none of the ten LG television codes worked I needed a different, aka another, remote.   

In closing she asked, “Can you change the channels?”

“Yes, with the living room remote.” I responded and did.

However, when I returned to the living room and changed the channel, the guide went wacky. Yes, I tried rebooting and lots of other stuff. Nothing helped.      

“Described wacky,” said the next customer representative.

“When I press channel number 1060, 1103 appears and a prompt to subscribe or cancel” 

He sent me two more remotes before I could explain one was already on the way.

In the morning the television was magically restored form wacky to normal. I could change channels on both televisions successfully.

Until that evening, when wacky channel suffering returned.

Now I was yelling, “Do not send me a remote.”

After what felt like eternity this representative restored the old remote to normal in the living room and threatened to send a new box.

“Please don’t,” I pleaded.

“Why not?” he asked.

“The last time they replaced the box they had to rewire inside and outside my house.”

That was one week ago and we’re able to watch both TV’s by borrowing.

The first remote is working, the second remote stopped working, the third wouldn’t work and the next three may work if I can find the courage to try.

* * * just saying

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Thirty days has September, April, June and November. All the rest have thirty-one, except for February.

Today is September 4, 2021 and there are 118 days left in the year. Our local newspaper prints this information daily.

Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is November 25th, or 83 days away and Christmas is 113 days from now.

Yikes! Where has the time gone? To quote the lyrics from a Floor Cry song, “My mind is spinning like it’s a colorful pinwheel.

What were today’s headlines?

Covid deaths outpace 2020, “Since Jan. 1st, Volusia County has reported 609 COVID-19 deaths, a 35% increase over the 449 coronavirus deaths reported in 2020. The county had a total of 1,058 deaths as of Wednesday.”

They continued to report, “This year we are seeing younger and otherwise healthy people to be among those who are losing their life to COVID-19.”

Other headlines, Biden tells La.: “We’re going to have your back’ and US set to admit over 50,000 Afghans

We can find housing and relief for immigrants . . . but going to help citizens?

My head is spinning like a colorful pinwheel.

* * * just saying

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In the Way

In The Way

It is 10AM on the morning. I’ve been up since seven, read the newspaper, had breakfast, even exercised and showered. I’m dressed and headed to my office with a fresh cup of coffee to write when something gets in the way.

As I pulled my desk away from the wall, ever so slightly, to retrieve a slip of paper, the jewelry holder fell to the floor tangling the necklaces that dangled from her golden arms and stretched neck. I considered throwing the mess in the garbage, but the doll, a collectable figurine by Heriloom Edition was a gift from my mother who is now deceased.

Mercury Retrograde was at it again. I scooped her up, rested the damage on the bed and turned on my computer. I refused to be deterred. I didn’t take the detour, the roundabout way to writing.

Several days later I summoned the fortitude to untangle the numerous strands of necklaces, without yelling, screaming or cursing. There’s some real personal growth taking place here Dr. Trugillo. I remembered to count to ten, take deep breathes and do whatever else needed to behave sane. “I am an adult.” I repeated to myself again and again.

However, it was a reminder that retirement is highly over rated. You think you’re going to do what you want, go where you want, eat what you want . . . all your wants will be cared for.

But no, I wake up to new health challenges, world disasters or situations that need attention, daily.

Staying focused is a challenge. Should I wear a face mask again, get the booster vaccination before or after the flu shot? The increasing concerns make me dizzy and worn out. I wasn’t going to mention the remote situation, but will, briefly. Spectrum had to mail us four new remotes, none of which turn the bedroom TV on.

And then the guilt! I don’t have loved ones near the fires, fighting or returning from Afghanistan, in Ida’s path or battling covid,

But damn it, I’m going to have fun and be happy even if it kills me.

* * * just saying

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Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde

“The planet Mercury rules communication in all forms—listening, writing, reading, speaking, and so on—as well as activities closely related to communication, like negotiations and contracts. It also rules travel, automobiles, shipping, and mail.” And according to my neighbor lots more; like air conditioner failure.

Three times a year, the planet Mercury appears to travel backward across the sky. It’s an illusion but nevertheless associated with confusion, delay and frustration. Hence the term Mercury Retrograde, AKA backwards, reverse or decline and might also be responsible for the nail stuck in my car tire.

Here’s what happened. After driving 600 miles, we arrived home to find our central AC shut down. My husband, Bob, tired and in crossword puzzle withdrawal, was on the brink of a melt own. So, I phoned for emergency service and spoke with another Bob who from the tone of his voice was equally fatigued, if not more. He explained he’d been on call in addition to working his regular job for the past ten day before asking, “Do you have a shop vac?”

“We used to.”

“The line is more than likely clogged and needs to be suctioned. It will take me at least one hour to get where you are and cost you at least $200 dollars.”

“Are you talking about this white pipe sticking out of the ground?” I asked.

He agreed to come, I hung up and immediately phoned my Mercury Retrograde neighbor and  shared what was going on.

“I have a shop vac! I’ll be right over,” she said.

Wearing a designer skort and sequined flip-flops, she arrived within minutes carrying the shop vac.

“My AC line got clogged and I had to pay big bucks for it to be repaired. So, I purchased this on Amazon,” she said kneeling on the wet grass.

My Bob came outside and I had the other Bob on the telephone explaining he didn’t have to come after all. Everyone wore smiles. Well, I couldn’t see the other Bob smiling, but I knew he was.

“Thank you, Johanna!”

Next morning, I figured new day, no problems and went about unpacking, doing the laundry, opening-up the mail, oblivious to Mercury Retrograde who was secretly hanging around.

Later in the day I was driving on route 95 when yellow alerts appear in the dashboard, the print too small for me to see, but soon discovered my right front tire was losing pressure quickly. Normal pressure is 33 to 35 this tire had 20 pounds of pressure, YIKES!

Turns out I had picked up a nail in my travels.

I didn’t have to consult my neighbor to know, “when Mercury is retrograde, try to remain flexible, patient, and understanding, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing onto any new contracts that you’re unsure of. Double check your email responses and check in with reservations before you take that trip.”

                                               * * * * just saying

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Back In Florida

We’re Back

Sunrise Lake

We’ve returned to Florida after spending four weeks at Sunrise Lake in Milford, Pa., and an additional week in Delmar, New York, visiting family. We’d considered a trip to Yellowstone National Park to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, but due to health issues, upcoming medical procedures, and what not, put the trip on hold.  Twelve years ago, we retired to Florida and in retrospect would have made better snow birds. We wanted to escape the heat.

It rained frequently at the lake. The temperatures so cool, we jumped in the lake only once. But, our grand kids, daughter and old friends; well let me restate that, people who we’ve been friends with for a long time, visited. Although, they are truly old friends; we met when I was thirteen and been friends for sixty years.

Smoking cigarettes at Puffy’s Creek, (behind Martin’s house in Hensonville, N.Y) nobody thought we would be old, or still be friends. It rained cats and dogs when they visited, and we huddled on a covered screen porch laughing our heads off, trying not to get wet.

Our favorite restaurant in the area is the Walpack Inn. It’s hidden deep in the woods, In order to get there we crossed Dingman’s Ferry Bridge, one of three privately owned bridges in the United States. Twenty-four hours a day someone stands in the middle of the road collecting the one dollar toll (cash only) and says repeatedly, “Thank you. Have a nice day,” to motorists crossing the Delaware River into or from Sussex County, New Jersey, via Old Mine Road. It’s a narrow bumpy bridge and kind of like threading a needle.

It was great to visit with everyone and I had mixed emotions and quite grumpy leaving Delmar at 6AM on a Monday for the 584-mile drive to Roanoke, VA. I’d not slept well the night before. However we made good time and got in bed early.

The next day we were on the road by 7AM., traveling Route 81, a scenic parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Around 9:30 AM we stopped in Hillsville, Virginia for gas; to use the restrooms, and buy the newspaper. Bob reads the paper and does crossword the puzzle while I drive. We are not back on the road five minutes when he announced there is no crossword puzzle in The Carroll News which he paid one dollar for and the paper was dated August 4th, several days ago. It’s a weekly publication.

But there was news of interest.

The 85th Old Fiddlers’ Convention, held at Felts Park for six nights was expected to draw 50,000 to 60,000 people from all fifty states and several foreign countries. The paper reported the big controversy over face masks in schools, but there was no debate at the convention; no one wore a mask.

New material at the Carroll County Public Library was another headline. The list of new books, videos and CDs was extensive, diverse and took up several pages. There are six branches however, who was getting what book was left out.

The paper, more than likely, reflected what was important in the community

It was a the poignant story highlighting the Golden Girls return to work at Blue Ridge Designs that enthralled me.

Blue Ridge Design’s Golden Girls, Rubye Edwards, Cathie Grimes, Carol Montgomery, Sue Worrell

Look at the smiles! These women in their eighties, work part time at Blue Ridge Designs. Rubye retired at 87 and returned to work at 88 saying, “It’s an easy job and better than sitting at home.”They re-sticker UPC hang tags for garments. Sue Worrell believes in the “Move it or lose it,” health approach and after work went home to make 10 pints of blackberry jelly. Cathie Grimes does it for “The money!” Carol Montgomery said, “I’m still working because I don’t like staying home.”

We arrived home early and thought our re-entry would be easy. However, we were not in the door an hour when the air conditioner stopped working.

* * * * just saying

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Errands, Errants or Creative Excursions



The other day after announcing I was going out to get a few things, my husband inquired, “Where are you going?” I drew upon my friend Claire’s wisdom and answered, “To do some errands,” and was out the door before he could ask, “When will you be back? Did you make a list?”

His questions were simple, and deserved simple answers, however, it seemed tedious to explain; I was going to deposit empty egg cartons and a wad of plastic bags in Publix Market’s recycling bin, then instead of having a colonoscopy was dropping a stool sample off at the lab, swinging by the hospital to leave dated issues of Southern Living Magazine in a waiting room and probably get gas, to which he would have responded, “You can’t get gas at the hospital.” 

A discussion as to why I was not discarding Styrofoam cartons, plastic and old magazines in our recycling, and why not have a colonoscopy, it had been ten years, would have been lengthy, and besides he would predict I would be back in an hour, leading to another explanation as to why that was not necessarily so. That would lead to a discussion of the differences between us, and how we manage to stay married, neither one of us knows.

Eventually, it would have come out that I might possibly check out the Hospital Gift Shop because you never know; get coffee, and walk on the beach, or stop at an antique store, a small table would be nice in the guest room. I was not just going out to do errands.

Which got me thinking about the difference in errand and errant; an errand is a task, duty, chore or job; a short trip somewhere to do something on behalf of somebody else and an errant is wandering from an intended course, not reaching an intended destination, looking for adventure; wayward, sinful, naughty, misbehaving, delinquent.

Therefore, the difference in errand and errant is bigger than d or t and in the hope of maintaining a happy marriage, now will be called a creative excursion because although my going out is task orientated I an still looking for adventure.

. . . . just saying

April Fools

21783582-afc2-4d7c-bfcf-6b726629127aPhoto by Joze

Flash Fiction


     Today, crisp cool air mingles with a blazing sun as I leave my minuscule apartment on Lexington Ave. The weather has been dreary. This morning is glorious.

     I pull my long chestnut hair into a no-nonsense ponytail, walk and think about the other woman . Damn, I am better looking, appear tall for my height and young for my years.

     Around noon, I stop for lunch at a typical outdoor New York café; the tables are round and small; the metal chairs look uncomfortable, but are not once I sit.

     A waiter fills my water glass, and announces he is my server. The menu choices are unexpectedly appealing; fennel quiche, garlic soup, and more.

     I take time ordering.

     The man on my left, glances my way. His look lingers but reveals nothing, and leaves me questioning if I know him? The feeling we have met and cannot remember where, accompanies the exchange. His thick blond hair is sun streaked and he looks familiar, a little like a friend, Sam.

      Groomed brows frame his eyes. Carefully pressed gray slacks, and a wrinkle-free dress shirt complete his polished look, but I do not know him.

        I sit back to wait for my meal and people watch. New Yorker’s are something, a biker babe dressed in leather, pushes a doggie stroller. The dog wears goggles and rests his paws on the bar celebrity style. I laugh.

       The street is increasingly active as people walk and talk loud.  

        The waiter brings my order and the man who looks like Sam stares in my direction again, his eyes search everywhere. As the tables fill up, the man gives a knowing nod my way, and almost smiles. Although he is facing me, it is hard to tell if he is looking at me, or not.

     I refrain from turning my head to look behind hearing a couple seat themselves. They create quite a stir dragging empty chairs across the concrete and arranging shopping bags. I realize the man who looks like Sam is studying them.

     “Mind your own business,” says a voice in my head.  

     When the waiter takes my empty plate, I order a Cappuccino and the ‘Chocolate – Chocolate’ cake, and listen to the newly seated couple’s angry banter.

     The woman protests, “I didn’t make you come here, Victor, you agreed it was a favorite of ours.”

     “Eve, you’re the one who loved the menu, thought the food so nouveau or something?”

      Her voice rises. “You loved the zucchini mushroom quiche, and what about the gazpacho soup? You raved, said it was the best you’d ever had!”

     His reply is slow and deliberate. “No, you weren’t listening; I said the quiche was good if you like quiche. And the soup ‘the best’ Gestapo! I was being sarcastic.”

     He leaves the table saying, “I’ll be in the men’s room.”  

     I am  stunned.  His voice sounds like Victor’s? My Victor? 

     Look-A-Like Sam rushes to fill Victor’s empty seat, firing off questions that leave no room for a response. “What’s going on? You said you would be at here 12 o’clock, alone. Why did Victor come? Drama? Eve, you thrive on drama. I’ve had enough.”

      Now, I turn my head to see and watch. Coyly, Eve removes her Hollywood style sunglasses, checks her diamond wristwatch, leans forward, and whispers, “Oh, my, it is past noon, isn’t it. Victor’s golf was cancelled.”

    Playing with her blouse buttons she continues, “When he learned I was coming to the city, he said, he would come.”

     Shaking her head, she  continues, her eyes misty. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise. You know I’m married.”

     Look-A- like Sam laughs, “Do you think I’m a fool, Eve? There are other restaurants in this town! Why bring him here? There won’t be a next time.”

     He takes a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet, presses it in a nearby waiter’s hand, and leaves abruptly.

     Eve shouts after him, “Next time answer your cell, damn it!” As she tosses her hair back and adjusts her sun glasses.

     The husband returns. A tan complements his brown eyes, perfect Roman nose, and romantic lips. Approaching the table, his aloof expression becomes surprise, as our eyes meet.

     Victor sits down across from his wife, tucks in a cloth napkin and questions, “Who was that? You seem upset. Is everything alright?”

     Eve clears her throat, forces a smile, and explains, “Someone who goes to my gym. It’s nothing. I’m tired, and sorry. Sorry we had words.” She reaches across the table to take her husband’s hand, “Can we forget it?”

     Eve appears confident and why not? She is not his other woman.

     I linger to finish my ‘Chocolate-Chocolate’ cake, lick the remains of a raspberry garnish from the fork, and pay the bill.

   Stopping at the couple’s table when leaving, I say, “Victor, What a surprise to see you here . . . with . . . your wife? And move into the passing crowd.

. . . .  just saying



Aging & Attitude

Ridiculous, this is ridiculous; I am telling myself, stressed about baking chocolate chips cookies.

Really! Chocolate chip cookies! Have you eaten a home-baked chocolate chip cookie that was not delicious?

I am on a mission to bake my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies and disappointed with the results.

Granny B’s cookies were more like a brownie, square in size , not chewy or gooey, just the right amount of crunch. As you can tell from the picture; not flat or crispy.


The struggle for perfection is ridiculous, absolutely positively ridiculous.

My children, who I will be bringing them to, remember the cookies, but not the way I remember them; a special treat that accompanied a special woman wherever she went.

Remember special treats for special days. Some of us even enjoyed weekly special treats.

Ours was eating pizza in front of the television on Friday night. Pizza was tomato paste on English muffins with American cheese criss-crossed on the top. The television show was Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip. We snapped our fingers and mouthed the words to the signature song. Then mesmerized by Kooky combing his hair, and prayed he would lend me his comb.

No really, I am being ridiculous. The cookies I baked are practically almost exactly like hers.

I never watched her bake them, but asked for the recipe once. Her response was she followed the recipe on the back of Toll House package but added one teaspoon more water. In later years I pondered and pondered how an insignificant addition to a cookie recipe could produce nirvana , then recalled Granny B baked with Crisco.

Remember the movie, “The Help,” when Minny says to Celia, “The greatest invention since they put mayonnaise in a jar. You have a squeaky door hinge, Crisco. Bags under your eyes, gum in your hair, Crisco”?

I examined the Crisco can, and sure enough, when substituting Crisco for butter add one teaspoon  water.

Now the recipe is just right. Well not exactly, the taste is delicious. That is not the problem.  

The problem? The cookies are too thick and a tad too light in color.  

I get it, I am being ridiculous.

I have tried a 9 by 13 pan, too thick, and 15 by 10, too thin. One is too small; the other too big. It is possible a 9.5 by 14 pan will be just right. Unless I am being ridiculous.

. . . . just saying